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absence they had erected a club .... ; we made some laws today, which I am to digest and add to against next meeting. We are yet but twelve. .... The end of our club is, to advance conversation and friendship, and to reward deserving persons with our interest and recommendation. We take in none but men of wit or men of interest.
The National Review, “ The Clubs of London.”
DIRECT COMMISSIONS, May 1861. The ruin or prosperity of a state depends so much upon the administration of its government, that, to be acquainted with the merit of a ministry, we need only observe the condition of the people. If we see them obedient to the laws, prosperous in their industry, united at home, and respected abroad, we may reasonably presume that their affairs are conducted by men of experience, abilities, and virtue. If, on the contrary, we see a universal spirit of distrust and dissatisfaction, a rapid decay of trade, dissensions in all parts of the empire, and a total loss of respect in the eyes of foreign powers, we may pronounce, without hesitation, that the government of the country is weak, distracted, and corrupt.
DIRECT COMMISSIONS, August 1862. BLENHEIM is a small village of Bavaria, on the Danube, famous in modern history as being the scene of the great battle fought August 13, 1704. Each army consisted of nearly 80,000 men. The English and their allies gained a complete and decisive victory. Their enemies left about 10,000 men killed and wounded on the field ; a vast number more were drowned in the Danube, and above 13,000 were made prisoners ; among the latter were Marshal Tallard (whose son was killed) and many other officers of distinction.
When I first saw England, she was in mourning for the young Princess Charlotte, the hope of the empire. I came from India as a child, and our ship touched an island on the way,
my black servant took me a long walk over rocks and hills, until we reached a garden where we saw a man walking.
“ That is he," said the black man,“ that is Bonaparte ; he eats three sheep every day, and all the little children he can lay hands on !”
DIRECT COMMISSIONS, November 1868.
DURING the wars of Napoleon in Spain, a regiment of the guard of Jerome, ex-King of Westphalia, arrived under the walls of the monastery of Figeiras. The General sent a message to the Prior to demand refreshment for his officers and men. About an hour afterwards a plentiful dinner was served ; but the Ge al, knowing by experience how necessary it was for the French to be on their guard when eating and drinking with Spaniards, invited the Prior and two of the monks to dine with him. The invitation was accepted in such a manner as to lull every suspicion ; the monks sat down to table with their guests, who, after the repast, thanked them heartily for their hospitality; upon which the Prior rose and said :—“Gentlemen, if you have any worldly affairs to settle, there is no time to lose ; this is the last meat you and I shall take on earth : in an hour we shall know the secrets of the world to come.”
The Prior and his two monks had put a deadly poison into the wine, and in less than an hour every man, hosts and guests, had ceased to live.
ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY, WOOLWICH, June 1858. No man knew better than Napoleon how to win the affections and excite the gratitude of his soldiers ; and it was to his wonderful powers in this respect, almost as much as to his political and military capacity, that his long-continued success was owing. To increase this effect, and add to the naturally retentive powers of his memory in this respect, he inquired privately from the
officers who were the veterans of Egypt or Italy in their regiments; and when he passed them in review, stopped the men who had been previously designated to him, and said, “ Ah ! you are a veteran. How is your old father? I have seen you at Aboukir or the Pyramids. You have not a cross ; here is one for you !” and threw the cordon round the astonished soldier's neck.
The words, “ the French are coming,” like a spell, quelled at once all murmurs about taxes and abuses, about William's ungracious manners and Portland's lucrative places, and raised a spirit as high and unconquerable as had prevailed, a hundred years before, in the ranks which Elizabeth reviewed at Tilbury. Had the army of Humières landed, it would assuredly have been withstood by almost every male capable of bearing arms. Not only the muskets and pikes, but the scythes and pitchforks would have been too few for the hundreds of thousands, who, forgetting all distinction of sect or faction, would have risen up like one man to defend the English soil.
ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY, WOOLWICH, July 1859. I live in a place where I have the pleasure of frequently hearing justice done to your dissertation, but never heard it mentioned in a company, where some one person or other did not express his doubts with regard to the authenticity of the poems which are its subject ; and I often hear them totally rejected with disdain and indignation, as a palpable and most impudent forgery. This opinion has, indeed, become very prevalent among the men of letters in London ; and I can foresee that in a few years the poems, if they continue to stand on their present footing, will be thrown aside, and will fall into final oblivion. The absurd pride and caprice of Macpherson himself, who scorns, as he pretends, to satisfy any body that doubt his veracity, has tended much to confirm this general scepticism.
THERE are in every country morose beings, who are always prognosticating ruin. There was one of this stamp at Philadelphia. He was a man of fortune, declined in years, had an air of wisdom, and a great manner of speaking. His name was Samuel Mickle. I knew him not, but he stopped one day at my door, and asked me if I was the young man who had lately opened a new printing house ? Upon my answering in the affirmative, he said that he was very sorry for me, as it was an expensive undertaking, and the money that had been laid out upon it would be lost ; Philadelphia being a place falling into decay, its inhabitants having all, or nearly all of them, been obliged to call together their creditors ; that he knew, from undoubted fact, the circumstances which might lead us to suppose the contrary, such as new buildings and the advanced price of rent, to be deceitful appearances, which in reality contributed to hasten the general ruin ; and he gave me so long a detail of misfortunes actually existing, or which were soon to take place, that he left me almost in a state of despair. Had I known this man before I entered into trade, I should doubtless never have ventured. He continued, however, to live in this place of decay, and to declaim in the same style, refusing for many years to buy a house, because all was going to wreck ; and in the end I had the satisfaction to see him pay
five times as much for one as it would have cost him had he purchased it when he first began his lam tations.
At this time, when you are cut off from a little society, and made a citizen of the world at large, you should bend your talents, not to serve a party or a few, but all mankind. Your genius should mount above that mist in which its participation and neighbourhood with earth long involved it ; to shine abroad, and to heaven, ought to be the business and the glory of your present situation. Remember it at such a time that the greatest lights of antiquity dazzled and blazed the most, in their retreat, in their exile, or in their death. But why do I talk of dazzling or blazing ? It was then that they did good, that they gave light, and that they became guides to mankind.
Those aims alone are worthy of spirits truly great, and each, therefore, I hope will be yours. Resentment, indeed, may remain, perhaps cannot quite be extinguished in the noblest minds ; but revenge never will harbour there.
.. Believe me, my lord, I look upon you as a spirit entered into another life, as one just upon the edge of immortality, where the passions and affections must be more exalted, and where you ought to despise all little views and all mean retrospects. Nothing is worth your looking back, and therefore look forward, and make, as you can, the world look after you. But take care that it be not with pity, but with esteem and admiration.
ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY, Woolwich, July 1860.
To Mr Moore.
LONDON, January 8, 1814. As it would not be fair to press you into a dedication without previous notice, I send you two, and I will tell you why two. The first, Mr M., who sometimes takes upon him the critic, (and I hear it with astonishment,) says, may do you harm. God forbid! This alone makes me listen to him. ... Pray, perpend, pronounce, and don't be offended with either. . The first, says Mr Moore, was, of course, the one that I
preferred. The other ran as follows :
My dear Moore,-I had written to you a long letter of dedication, which I suppress, because, though it contained something relating to you which every one had been glad to hear, yet there was too much about politics, and poesy, and all things whatsoever, ending with that topic, on which men are fluent, and none very amusing-one's self.
It might have been re-written, but to what purpose ? My praise could add nothing to your well-earned and firmly-estab